The widening skill gap in accountancy

Accountancy has a widening skill gap according to a recent survey of accounting and financial professionals, with 62% of respondents saying there is “significant skills gap” within the industry, up from 51% in 2016.

The report, conducted by CaseWare, an automated accounting software provider, confirms the much talked about move of accountants into a more advisory role, working on issues like financial planning and strategy, with more manual tasks like data entry being taken up by automation.

When asked, skills like accuracy (61%) and analytical ability (41%) were seen as the most important attributes for accountants today. While these skills are still viewed as highly desirable five years from now, the percentage of accountants who selected them dropped to 42% and 37% respectively. On the rise are skills like financial forecasting and the ability to use specific software.

Shez Hamill, a director at CaseWare, said: “Whether 2020 marks the beginning of the age of accounting automation remains to be seen, but it is definitely where accountants expect the industry to go. Most accountants recognise that technology will change their day-to-day job and that they will have to take on a new role which is more consultative and about adding value to clients.”

Source: CaseWare

Automation and new technologies

Accountants see artificial intelligence, cloud computing and mobile accounting as technologies that will have the greatest impact on their working life.

The industry is upbeat about the changes and benefits that these new technologies and automation will bring, with 74% saying it’s important that firms automate more manual processes in order to make the job more rewarding and less repetitive.

A majority also expect that more than half of their workload will be automated in five years. At the same time however, 26% showed concern regarding job security with one in ten worrying automation would make their job obsolete.

Accountants are learning and adapting to new technologies with nearly half of accountants having at least a good understanding of mobile accounting and cloud computing. However, less mature but emerging technologies like robot processing automation and blockchain lag behind.

Hamill noted: “The area of concern however is not about whether automation will take jobs, but rather if the industry as a whole has the skills it needs to take on this new, more strategic and planning focused role. Based on what our research has found, there is serious doubt about this, and it is something accountants and finance teams should be looking to address from 2020 and beyond.”

Overall, the report indicated accountants have a strong grasp of the changes these technologies will bring, but don’t fully understand the practical implications that they will have in an accountant’s day to day work.

Exit mobile version